General Mills Reduces TV Use to Reintroduce Chex Mix

Print, Web at Reader's Digest Association Includes Rachael Ray,

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CHICAGO ( -- When General Mills set out to reinvigorate its Chex cereal brand and its party-mix recipe, the company wanted to connect with home cooks on a personal level. The result: an online and print buy with Reader's Digest properties -- and a dramatic reduction in broadcast-TV spending.
General Mills is looking to reinvigorate its Chex party mix brand.
General Mills is looking to reinvigorate its Chex party mix brand.

Chex brand manager Rohan Thakur admits the brand's heyday was likely in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the company found that a number of cooks were still interested in sharing their own party-mix recipes. So Chex is offering "5 recipes, 15 minutes and lots of wows," in "Every Day With Rachael Ray" and "Taste of Home" magazines, and at An online contest will determine "America's favorite Chex party mix."

"We've got to start thinking of TV as only one piece of the marketing, as opposed to a year ago when it was the lion's share of the spend," Mr. Thakur said. He declined to disclose the size of the campaign.

Katie Lee Joel joins effort
General Mills has also signed on celebrity home cook Katie Lee Joel as a pitchwoman. Her video demonstrations began airing on the Chex website this week.

As part of its access to Reader's Digest properties, Chex will have signs and demonstrations in the company's 125 Taste of Home cooking schools.

"A marketers, we're always talking about reach, reach, reach," Mr. Thakur said. "It's shifting to the quality of reach."

Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, New York, handles creative duties for Chex party mix.

Spending plummets
There may be a reason why the brand has been slipping from our collective consciousness. According to TNS Media Intelligence, General Mills' measured-media spending on the entire Chex brand, including cereal, plummeted from $52 million in 2003 to $9 million in 2007. Party mix essentially took over the budget during that period, although spending fell from $19 million to $9 million.

A decrease in Chex spending would seem to run counter to General Mills' recent marketing. The company has dramatically increased its marketing spending over the last year and credited the boosted brand-building efforts with its ability to pass commodity-cost increases onto the consumer.
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